A Foolish Education
Location: Outoffocus's CAPS Blog
I just checked my profile and it says I joined the Fool in November 2001 (at the tender age of 19). I don't think I had declared my major yet in college. But to think that I've been a member of The Fool for over 10 years just blows my mind. Where did the time go? Heck if I had known I would have thrown myself a 10 year anniversary party.
But I think that date has significance as it marks the beginning of my journey into unraveling the vast mysteries within the world of investments. Back then I barely knew what a stock was. I had just read my first financial book, Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. Say what you want about the man, that book opened the eyes of a lot of people when it came to how money works. When I first signed up I had gotten some free trial of one of TMF's newsletters for a month. I tried to get into it but lets be honest. I was in college, its not like I had any money to invest. So at the time I couldn't really do much with the knowledge I had access to. But The Fool had already established itself as a credible financial new and info website so I stuck with it.
Fast forward to 2003. I was well into my Accounting Major and Finance Minor. I elected to take what turned out to be my most favorite class in college, Investments. In this class I learned about all the different security types (stocks, bonds, funds, derivatives), and how they work (risk vs. return). A requirement for the course was that I had to maintain a virtual portfolio of fake money on Stocktrak.com. The portfolio started you with $100,000 and you could buy stocks, options, mutual funds, and you could borrow on margin. Your performance was compared to the performance of the rest of the classmates. My philosophy was conservative. I used no margin and I only invested in the stocks of popular companies at the time such as Ebay and SBC.
At the end of the semester I had an ok return on the portfolio. I wasn't top of the class. But I wasn't bottom of the class either. After I passed that class, my thirst for investment knowledge did not go away, it got stronger. From then on I continued to play online virtual portfolio games on websites such as Marketwatch and Investopedia.
Fast forward to 2008. I joined CAPS. I received an email about this CAPS game. I had no idea what CAPS really was or what the rules were. For the first 8 months in CAPS my portfolio fell below the 7 stock limit. I was only tracking 2 stocks that were invested in my portfolio. Once I discovered the 7 stock limit, I started adding more stocks. That was September 2008. You all know what happened then.
When the stocks started falling and my score started turning red I panicked. I knew nothing of the accuracy rules. I didn't even know how the scoring worked. So I closed a bunch of bad picks, not knowing that even though they were in the red, had I just held onto them for another year my rating would have been in the 99s. At the same time I was watching my own investments go down the drain. But the beauty of the CAPS portfolio is it allowed me to see the error of panicking. So while I closed out positions in CAPS, I didn't sell out of my stocks in my real portfolio. As a result I was able to recover all of my losses.
Through CAPS I was introduced to monetary history that I was not taught in college. I knew nothing of Austrian vs. Keynesian economic theories. I had heard of precious medal investments, but only after joining CAPS did I learn HOW to invest in precious metals. If it weren't for CAPS I wouldn't know of Mondern Monetary Theory (MMT) or Elliot Wave technical analysis. My due diligence procedures got stronger (and easier) thanks to CAPS.
And Today. I am a CPA and Independent Financial Advisor. Now I get to share all the vast knowledge I've been accumulating over the years with others.
I've met some great people here on CAPS. The diversity of knowledge here is awe-inspiring. But CAPS is not just a community of investment knowledge, we are a community of people that care about each other. On numerous occasions CAPS members have shown me that I'm more than just another blogger. One member I met in person at his graduation. Another wished me happy birthday. One member even gave me a wedding gift. So I feel a closer tie to the Fool than any other financial website.
Thank You Motley Fool for providing the platform for such a great community.